Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Free Self-Guided Driving Route of the Burgundy Region of France

The starting point of this self-guided drive is Beaune and continues to Aloxe-Corton, the Canal de Bourgogne, Vezelay and finally Autun before returning to Beaune. Straight driving this route will take about 4hrs.

Beaune is the center of the Burgundy wine region. The old town center, which is enclosed within ramparts, holds the Hotel- Dieu, Hospices de Beaune where its multi-coloured glazed roof tiles, iron works, and gabled dormers make this more a wealthy mans house then a place for the poor. On the third weekend of November there is Les Trois Glorieuses, an annual festival, culminating in a charity wine auction held at the Hotel-Dieu, which sells the wine of the wineries owned by the hospice. But there are many other sites and squares that fill the city which should not be missed.

Take the D18 north from Beaune towards Permand-Vergelesse. Just before the town turn right/ east on D115D to Aloxe-Corton.

Aloxe-Corton lies in the center of the grands cru of Burgundy. There is a signed drive through some of the best wineries in the Cote du Beaune. The Route Touristique des Grands Crus de Borgogne. Though there are numerous caves and cellars within Aloxe-Corton, which sell these delicious reds.

Return to the D18, the latter part of D18 follows the banks of the Canal de Bourgogne. Stop in the town of Vandenesse en Auxois. Here take a stroll, or cycle, alongside the canal where the countryside offers a lush backdrop. Walking north-west for about 3.5kms there are numerous locks that lead to the beginning of this section of the Canal de Bourgogne. Walking south-east you again have numerous locks but this time against the backdrop of the feudal castle of Chateauneuf.

Continue on the D18 and join up with the autoroute A6. This is a toll road. Head north towards Paris. Take exit 22 towards Avallon and merge onto A646. After the roundabout bear right/ west on D50 and D606. At the roundabout take D957 towards Vezely.

Vezely is a hilltop hamlet that is a medieval time capsule. Believed to be the finial resting place of Mary Magdalene it was once a great pilgrim site of the Christian world. It was here that was the rendezvous point in 1190 for the 3rd Crusade to expel the Sacrens from Jerusalem, drawing such notables as Richard the Lion Hearted and King Philippe of France. The 12th century Romanesque Basilique Sainte-Marie Madeleine is only just smaller then Notre Dame in Paris, and is a wonder of spires, carved figures over doorways and pillars engraved with biblical scenes. The town is closed to all automobile traffic and can only be visited on foot.

Take the D957 back to Avallon and turn right/ south on D606 and D906 in the direction to Saulieu. In Saulieu turn right onto D980 direction to Autun.

Autun was founded at the end of the 1st century BC by the Romans. It was a very important which is shown by the size of it amphitheatre, capacity for 20,000, which was one of the largest anywhere at that time. Before you reach the town, on the right/ west are the remains of the Temple of Janus. Not to be missed is the Cathedrale St Lazare, a Gothic/ Romanesque wonder of carvings and colour. The area around the Cathedrale hold many wonders such as the fountain in the Place du Terreau and the Musee Rolin, a private collection of religious artwork and Gallo-Roman artifacts.

Take the D973 all the way back to Beaune.

Straight driving this route will take about 4hrs

The Burgundy Driving Route in its entirety on Google Maps

View self guided drive in Burgundy in a larger map